UVic loses parking for proposed new energy plant

‘Parking mecca’ on adjacent streets pose concern for some of council

Oak Bay approved its part of the energy centre build already underway at the University of Victoria.

Council allowed an exemption from its parking requirements for construction of an Energy Centre on campus, allowing the university to meet its building deadline for $4.8 million in provincial funding. The university is required to have an approved building permit in place prior to March 31 to secure that funding.

The proposed building is sited in the southwest quadrant of campus, within Oak Bay boundaries, and the proposed building would remove existing parking stalls. Oak Bay’s parking facilities bylaw requires one parking stall per two students, difficult to calculate given a portion of the campus is also within Saanich.

The existing campus heating system comprises a loop of underground piping providing heat to 32 buildings via hot water and heat exchangers. Water is heated by natural gas fired boilers located in three facilities built in 1994, 1978 and 1968 and each requires significant repair or replacement. The proposed District Energy Centre is in Parking Lot 6 to minimize impacts on existing trees and green space. The new energy centre would achieve a 10 to 12 per cent annual energy savings over existing systems.

While “thrilled” at the upgrade to efficiency, during the Feb. 27 council meeting Coun. Hazel Braithwaite questioned university representatives on the rushed nature of the application.

“A failure to plan on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on ours,” Braithwaite said.

UVic’s David Perry said they were in contact with staff last fall and understood it wasn’t an issue. It became an issue in January.

Braithwaite pointed out that Cedar Hill X Road is a “parking mecca” during school sessions. “Those cars never make it into the count on campus,” she said. “We probably make more in parking tickets on that road that we get in grants in lieu from the province, which is $57,000.”

UVic has a Transportation Demand Management Program to reduce single-occupancy vehicle use and shift traffic to more sustainable modes, such as transit, cycling and walking. That rests on Oak Bay to build bike lanes to get them to and from campus, Coun. Kevin Murdoch said, noting costs associated are often out of reach for the district. Building on Braithwaite’s message, he added it would be nice to see UVIc “invest” back into Oak Bay on initiatives to co-ordinate and fund such infrastructure.

 

While council approved the exemption from its parking requirements, Braithwatie opposed based on the rushed procedure. As part-time employees of the post-secondary institution, Coun. Tara Ney and Mayor Nils Jensen recused themselves from the discussion to avoid any perception of conflict of interest.